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The Journal Gazette

Monday, February 05, 2018 8:00 pm

Halftime thoughts: Indiana 26, Rutgers 16

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Before the game, I wondered whether Indiana could bring the incredible energy it had against Michigan State after just one day of rest since the game against the Spartans. The Hoosiers provided an answer in the first half and it was a resounding, "Yes." 

The Hoosiers have dominated in nearly every facet of the game in the first half, sprinting out to a 22-6 lead and now leading 26-16 at the break. Unlike against Michigan State, Indiana brought energy and a hot shooting hand to New Jersey. The Hoosiers are 5 for 11 from beyond the arc, including a pair of triples from Robert Johnson. Getting Johnson going again is so important for this team. The senior is Indiana's best scoring option on the outside, but he went just 3 for 21 combined against Michigan State and Ohio State. Not coincidentally, Indiana averaged just 58 points in those two games. With 11 points in the first half, Johnson came out with something to prove early and provided capable offense alongside Juwan Morgan, who had 10 points in the half.

Coach Archie Miller put a new lineup on the floor to start the game, starting Freddie McSwain Jr. for a second straight game and inserting Devonte Green in place of struggling guard Josh Newkirk. Both players made the decision look good, as McSwain grabbed five rebounds and Green had five points, two rebounds and two assists. This is pretty clearly Indiana's best lineup right now and it showed in the first half.

On defense, Indiana did an excellent job of containing guard Corey Sanders, who scored just one point after exploding for 31 against Purdue. Rutgers shot just 21 percent as a team, but a lot of those missed shots were caused by badly-run offense from the Scarlet Knights rather than particularly good defense from the Hoosiers.

Other than the last few minutes, when Rutgers closed the gap and pulled down several offensive rebounds, this was exactly the performance Indiana needed against the struggling Scarlet Knights. It's a little disappointing the Hoosiers are only up 10 after such a fast start, but it's tough to be choosy after a four-game losing streak.